HL Deb 04 June 1964 vol 258 cc581-3

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in view of the further invasion of seaside resorts on Whit Sunday and Monday, they will now reconsider their decision not to raise the age for obtaining a licence to ride a two-wheeled motor vehicle from 16 to 19.]


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government do not consider it necessary to raise the age limit for riding two-wheeled machines on this account. As with the disturbances at Easter, it seems that many of the troublemakers went by train and a very substantial proportion by van or motor car.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for his Answer, may I ask whether Her Majesty's Government are aware that, in fact, according to the Deputy Chief Constable of Kent, with whom I have been in correspondence, over 300 of those who went to Margate had mopeds or motor bicycles, presumably with pillion passengers? Also, may we know whether Her Majesty's Government propose to stand aside and allow our seaside resorts to be invaded and raped one after the other, when, by a simple administrative action curtailing the mobility of these people, they can put a quick end to the business and save a number of young lives?


My Lords, I do not agree with the noble Earl that taking any such restrictive measure would be effective for the purpose that he has in mind.


My Lords, could the noble Lord say whether or not it is possible to take away the licence for a motor bicycle for at least a year or more, to prevent these people returning with their pillion passengers to the seaside?


My Lords, I think that if there is anything logical in this argument, it would also be necessary to prohibit young people of this age from holding driving licences for four-wheeled vehicles and from travelling by train.


My Lords, quite apart from the point to which the noble Earl has narrowed his Question, which is arguable both ways, I think, is there not a case for reconsidering the age at which people can drive either motor bicycles or cars, in view of the congestion on the roads and the great risks that are run? It would not be a bad thing if there were fewer vehicles and if the age limit were higher. May I also put to the noble Lord the point that was raised by the noble Baroness opposite? When people use motor cars with a view to their aiding them in acts of violence and crimes of violence, quite apart from any possible prison or detention sentence, surely there would be wisdom in taking away their licences, at any rate for a period?


My Lords, the first part of what the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth has asked of course raises an entirely fresh question. On the second part, I think I can only say—I do not want to seem unco-operative; that was not my intention—that I will convey what he has put forward to my right honourable friend.


My Lords, is it not a fact that the lethal part of the two-wheeled motor vehicle is the power of the engine, and would it not be wise not to allow young people, until they reached the age of 19, to ride two-wheeled vehicles which are in excess of a certain horse-power? The low horse-powered vehicle does not matter so much, but in going at these terrific speeds young people are a danger not only to themselves but to other people as well.


My Lords, I think that, too, raises a fresh question which is not incorporated in the original Question asked by the noble Earl. I would say, from reports that I also have, that it seems that at Brighton, in particular, where I think the disturbances were worse, those who went by motor cycle and scooter in fact parked them conveniently out of the way, and the young people who joined in the disturbances did so on foot.


My Lords, if, despite the distance from the original Question that we appear to have progressed, the noble Lord is still prepared to reconsider the whole legal aspect of this question, would he be good enough to agree that it should be reconsidered from the point of view of the 99 per cent. of law-abiding users of these vehicles and not from the point of view of the 1 per cent. of the much over-publicised users of them?


My Lords, I could not agree more with my noble friend.


My Lords, may I again ask Her Majesty's Government this simple question? How long do they propose to allow these raids on the seaside towns to continue?


My Lords, if the noble Earl will contain his patience for a few minutes he will hear my noble friend the Chief Whip make an announcement.

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